Silence and Chat (text for the catalogue of the exhibition)

I believe in the idea that paintings should talk for themselves. A painter should not explain the paintings in words: they either speak to the beholder and grasp the attention, have an impact, or not. And if not, than there is nothing to talk about.
People have convinced me though that often the viewer needs a base, something to start from. How and why was a painting created? What was the painter thinking about? Did he or she want to say or convey a meaning, or just painted what was coming? Is he or she satisfied with the result?

Well, it is possible to talk about these questions. Or to write. I have been regularly writing my thoughts for  myself  for years. , so I don’t find it difficult to share them with others. This is how the idea of the exhibition-guide occurred to me. I will tell what I can without the intention to spoonfeed anybody. The pictures talk for themselves, and those who have the ear, will hear it. They tell a story, but the story might be different for everyone. It can also happen that the pictures are silent. It is good that way too.
I like to listen to the interpretations of others. There was a great Hungarian poet, János Arany whose reaction for an analysis of his poem was: the hell was thinking all of that… I am on the other hand curious what my paintings generate in other peoples mind and heart.

Silence and Chat

At the exhibition in Karinthy Szalon (Budapest) the paintings of the past one year are shown.
After living more than two years in Java I tried to find my way back into the western and Hungarian life. It was not easy. The ground was wobbling under my feet. I was distressed – that is not typical for me – and was often in a bad mood. In this atmosphere I painted Gloom. There is a delicious sweet “túró rudi” made from cottage-cheese and chocolate, a Hungarian specialty. I was happy to sweeten my days with it after not eating it for years. As a result crumpled papers with red dots were lying scattered in my room.
There was also a theme in my head that made me excited: the violin player! Before my grandma died I painted a picture about her in which she was playing the violin. I really liked that painting, and I was inspired by her movement, so I felt like continuing the theme of the violin player. This is how I found the gipsy man with his instrument. The picture was suddenly inside my head. I saw a booby, fat woman pondering on something, holding a “túró rudi” in her hand, while a gipsy man was playing the violin in her ears. I have painted my state of mind and heart into the figure of this woman, but at the same time I was laughing about myself. I had much fun while I was painting this picture. (This is a good trick, I can recommend to anyone: how humor can smooth the edge of things. I have learned it from the Carneval of Béla Hamvas, a great novel from a great Hungarian writer, and from my good friend, Ági in Java. We don’t have to take ourselves so seriously! Let’s laugh!)


Gloom 90x75 cm /oil on canvas 2007


Then I started to be busy with the “Picture in the Picture” theme.
This idea came to me years ago when I painted the Apple for Supper picture.
A slightly overweight woman is lifting an apple up to her mouth, sitting by a table covered with checked tablecloth in the company of a tubby fairy. On the wall there is a still-life from Cézanne, with the title: Apples and cookie. There are the apples in the middle, on the right only the half of the cookie-plate is seen. As if the plate that contains heavy calories was pushed out of the picture. There you go, lets eat apples instead! Of course I was on a diet at that time.

apple for supper

Apple for supper 28x33 cm / oil on canvas-paper 2005


The following is a detail from my diary (19 may 2007)

I am very excited about the “Picture in the picture” theme, still-life and figures appearing  mixed. I was already thinking about continuing the picture in picture theme, when Vilmos made a comment that I should paint still-lives, because I have the eye for them. A few days later Attila also asked the question why don’t I paint more still-lives, because he really likes the one that is hanging in my kitchen. (A painting I made years ago). Is this a coincidence?

I would not want to paint a still-life by itself, come on, I am over that, why would I paint objects? Who would be interested in objects?
Actually I used to be  engage in the still–life theme years ago.  How to create a living and pulsating nexus from lifeless (?) objects? It is not about painting the world as I see it, but  arranging or organizing the world -in this case the objects-  as I want to see it/them. The painting appears in my head. I find the appropriate objects and make a composition, so that everything finds its place on the painting.
Of course there are accidental factors also. I have an idea to put lilac irises in the blue vase, but I can not find lilac irises on the market, so I have to find other solutions. I walk up and down on the market gazing at the flowers while I paint pictures in my head. I paint sweet-william, bluebell and peony. I compose. I am thinking about colors, what  if instead of the lilac I paint pink – oh nooo, pink flowers no way. What about some yellow? Or white? I look at the white peony. Actually it looks nice, the white could work even better on the painting… (Not to mention the wonderful fragrance of this flower.) 
Yesterday I began the picture starting with the still-life. I am in a special, excited state. I haven’t been painting after a model for a long time and it has a different mechanism than what I am used to. It is refreshing and I really enjoyed it. I wanted to paint the peony because it fades quickly. But colors work only in relation, so I have to put all of the colors on the canvas. I have to see whether or not all the colors work together as well as they appeared in my mind?
I couldn’t finish it the painting, so something was buzzing inside me. I feel the lack of something. I had an idea about an ochre background, but I am not so sure anymore if it is going to work. What if not ochre? There are other uncertainties also. Keep on painting!

Painting the figures seems to be a challenge. I feel the changing of the size was a good idea, because the bigger size raises different painterly “problems”. In smaller size it is easier to blur the forms, here I have to be more accurate.
In the painting of  figures I am mostly interested in the gestures. These figures are simply “existing”. Who are they? You, me, he or she… we all… a person, an archetype, a hero of the everyday. It is all the same. In the gestures I like to capture our tiny momentums, small caducities, our humanity. Doing this with love and humor.
Lately an other theme is inside of my head: eating and gossiping. On this painting we can see female friends who are meeting over a cup of tea in the afternoon.  They are talking about what happened to them, one is telling a story, one listens carefully (while blowing her hot tea), and the third enjoys the cookies with big pleasure.
What are they talking about? I know, but I let everybody to decide. (of course about men…)
One can not miss a small point. I wanted to paint the tea pot on the table, but there was no more space, so it shows up on the painting above the women’s head.


Tea – time 90x80 cm /oil on canvas 2007


Elaborating on the idea of the picture in the picture I decided to compose works of famous painters in my pictures. On one hand this is a citation form masters I adore and who played important roles in my development, on the other hand this is a game in which I can put figures that pop out of my mind next to famous pictures creating a scene that would never happen in real life.
This is the freedom of creation.

Detail from the diary (15 August 2007)

There must be a reason why I choose Cézanne or Matisse. These painters had strong influence on my visual thinking.
Studying the pictures of Cézanne I started to understand the science of composition. Still-lives were no longer peachy rosebuds, shiny copper bowls, dewdrops glittering on grapes, lemon peels that speak, but attraction between power-lines, the conversations of colors and shapes, and playing with space.

On the picture with the Matisse painting I was especially interested in the theme of the enterieur that is layed out in plane. Not to mention the fact that Matisse is painting a window  that could be interpreted as a picture also.

This is how I painted Feast 1 and 2 .

feast 1

Feast1 90x80 cm/ oil, canvas 2007


feast 2

Feast2 120x90 cm /oil, canvas 2007


The At last I paint something abstract and big fits in the row of the Picture in the Picture theme.

at least

At last I paint something abstract and big 140x180 cm, oil, canvas, 2008

I wanted to do something new, big, experimental. To step out of the habitual, and to be brave. To loosen up the way of painting. To open a new window. Of course the small squares appear again, it is not that new. The playfulness and joy on the painting is palpable, however.
I was really painting like this even if not with a big bucket and not with such an e’lan.
I still have the set frames of my world and painting-style and I don’t want to step out of this frame. But with painting an other picture in the painting, a new window is opened. (Did Matisse paint a window or a painting on the red wall?) Here everything is possible.
Everything is possible anyway…


picture in the picture in the picture


What about the still-life genre these days? Is it alive and honored?  Why do people paint still-lives?
At the beginning I felt unsure, but than I put my doubts aside and my desire to create was stronger.
Do you like to paint them? Yes. Are you interested in the theme? Yes. So what than?
Vases, petals, draperies, Chinese bowls, apples, mandarins, beamy colors.
I realize that the objects talk to me.
I don’t know why the genre is called “still-life”. The term was created in the 17th century in the Netherlands for pictures showing sets of objects that seemed to be lifeless.
The Italian language even says: natura morta. Dead nature.
Are the objects on the canvas really suggesting the lifelessness of nature?
I say: natura viva! There is life in everything!

Meeting. On a drapery with star-patterns there is a kettle (borrowed from Lotti’s kitchen), a mug, peaches, and a green pepper (hot, bought in the market in Hunyadi Square) meet. I was interested in how I can paint the fabric with stars. I was not thinking much. I made a composition, and started to paint. The story I discover behind the objects I keep for myself.


Meeting 50x60 cm / oil on canvas 2007

Yellow and Blue. Fresh, peachy, filled with power and light, optimist, trust-, joy- and playful.

blue and yellow

Yellow and blue 60x50 cm / oil in canvas, 2007

Is the mandarin going to roll off? Tin kettle (borrowed from Lilla’s kitchen), Javanese batik, oranges, mandarins. The balance is delicate, it is dancing on the edge of a razor-blade. Is not the composition tilting to the left? Can the blue weight of the kettle (“up there”) and the flower patterns “moving” to the left balance the mandarins that seem to want to roll off from the table?  


Is the mandarin going to roll off 60x50 cm / oil in canvas, 2007



People often ask me why I paint so many women.
If I really want to answer something, it is because I am a woman and I am interested in being female. A have a woman’s body and brain, and because I often think in pictures, I work on the relation between my female-soul and the world in my paintings.
Through the figures of woman I paint the pieces of my soul. I don’t have to paint myself yet a painting can still be a self-portrait, in which acquaintances or archetypical figures represent us or a piece of our personality. On my paintings female figures show something that is going on in my soul,  like in dreams
The following paintings are self-portraits. (If I put them in a row, they show stages of a soul-development.)

moon faced in the forest of sounds

Moon-faced in the forest of sounds 60x40 cm /oil on canvas 2007

While living in Java I had an idea to paint a self-portrait as I walk in a prolific jungle wearing a white robe that has lots of patterns on it showing different stories. I never got to paint this picture, but I painted the Moon-faced, which shows  something of the atmosphere of the planed painting.
The story of the forest of sound is the following: after I returned from Java it was very hard to find my way back to Europe, to Hungary. One day I visited a friend of mine who plays the shaman drum that takes her to an other world, from where she can bring messages.
She brought a very interesting image for me from the other world. She has seen a forest where everything had a sound. Every leaf was jingling, every branch was clangingin a light breeze. Small bells were hanging on the trees. My soul was loose and playful, it was happily jumping around in the forest.
My inner world is rich enough to feed and nourish me all the time, I should not be shattered by uncertainty and distrust.

Where does the fatty woman come from? This is also a frequent question. Why do I paint fat women?
Because they are nice. Because it is funny. Dad used to draw big fat ladies and I learned from him. They remind me ancient goddesses.
Somebody has asked me once: have you ever been fat? Yes, I have. And are you afraid you will be fat again? No. (this answer was true that time, as for a year I could eat as much as I wanted without putting on any weight, my body was burning, and consuming a lot of energy.) My questioner was shaking his had. You just believe that you are not afraid. And it might well be true on a conscious level, but subconsciously there is the fear. I can see it on your pictures.  Otherwise you would not be able to paint fatness like this!
I shrug than, but later I realized that the fear is really there.

Actually, inside I am a big fat woman. I have always been. My genes are predetermined. If I would gratify my propensities and I would follow the lifestyle of my family, my body would be a big one!
But because my body doesn’t like to carry redundant weight, I decided to change my inclinations, and create my own shape, where the body is healthy and body-soul-spirit are in harmony. I was happy after discovering that I am responsible for my body, for myself.
But at the same time I was also wondering what kind of image I was holding about myself, and what kind of image appears in the outside world. Why is there an inside and an outside image at all? Why do I think that I am this fat woman?  Or that one whi is not fat? Who am I? Does it matter?
I am not fat and not thin. But who is the I anyway?
The one that is observing!
My being is boundless… I just forget about it all the time…


Red 70x45 cm / oil, canvas 2007

I wanted to paint a still-life in red. I wanted to see everything in red. It is difficult to tone the red, most challenging. I was also interested in putting a human figure in the composition. Some green and white was also needed.
I painted the face from my head. It is desirous, and slightly booby. Inscrutable. There is slothfulness in this woman but also fire.
Something is glowing inside me. Or is it a volcano wanting to errupt?
Yes, I can feel it rising.



Fragrance 70x50 cm/ oil, canvas 2007

One morning I woke up and the sun was shining nicely.
Today I am going to paint a still-life, I thought. Today I would like something white and bright, something low-key, something meditative. With a figure.
This is a part in me that is looking inside, and enjoys the present, the presence. The moment is the most important. The sun, the smell of the chrysanthemum, the beauty. Small miracles. How good it is to paint. I can paint what I want… and this makes me happy.


self portrait with saturn

Self portrait with Saturn 70x50 cm /oil, canvas 2007

I have been having this idea for a while. I will paint myself with Saturn. I felt some anger why Saturn always twits me? Why am I so obstinate and strict? Why do I have so much of the Capricorn?
A picture appeared in my imagination me squinting reprovingly at Saturn, but the result turned out to be something different.
When I begun this paintingI had my head in the clouds. I was musing all the time. I pretend to be reading and being occupied with spiritual things… but my mind is elsewhere.



Patience 60x50 cm /oil, canvas 2007

Backlight. My face, the flowers are in the dark. I am waiting. I can not think. The only thing I can do is to be patient. It is not up to me what is going to happen. I did all I could. I am open even if I cross my arms on my chest. Is it possible that I presume the future already? I might, I just don’t know yet.



Blue 50x35cm / oil, canvas, wooden board 2007

Pain. How could I plummet that big? Where does this intensity come from? What can I do with this pain? I know it had to happen. In the flaming my reluctance was burned and walls fell down. There is a free way now. I became ashes, but I will resurrect as phoenix and I will fly even higher.

plack pot

Black pot 70x50 cm /oil, canvas 2008

This picture has an antecedent. I have seen a dream: I paint a picture, I am painting myself, but there are two figures, both are me. I have a painting technique that I choose a color to underpaint the shape, than for the next layer I use a color of different value: a light color is covered by a dark one. I scratch lines in the upper layer, so the color of the underpaint can be seen.
In my dream I was trying to decide whether to paint myself black or white first. At the end I painted two figures, one white, one black. The white had black, the black had white patterns.
(I painted the picture. The figures are gazing at each other but there is no connection between them. They know they should get acquainted).


Dream 39x28 cm, oil, canvas 2007

On the picture Black pot I paint my friend Kata. She is looking inside a bowl. What is in there? We don’t know. There is a shadow behind her.


After the still, introverted pictures let’s see chatting ones.
The idea of women gossiping arose in Java. It is not possible to avoid this theme in Java. Javanese people are very curious, they like to know everything. For example: where do you come from, or where do you go. Or how old are you, do you have children, brothers, sisters, and where do you live. Of course they share the information with each other.


Gossip 40x60 cm /oil on canvas 2007

Gossip as a community-cohesion is a global symptom. So I painted a Hungarian version also.
Did you hear?
The theme of people sitting, talking, waiting, playing music on a bench keeps returning. I concentrate on the movements and gestures between people. But the painting has an other level too, it is about colors and shapes. How I can balance the two fat women sitting on the left side with a white and detached patch on the right. I play with the composition. I avoid symmetry but look for balance.
As in the Universe everything strives for the balance… 

did you hear

Did you hear? 90x130 cm, oil on canvas 2007


Sometimes I still paint pictures with Javanese inspiration, because there are intensive pictures or visual ideas in me from Java, and these have to come out.

javanese singer

Resting of Javanese singers 60x125 cm /oil on canvas 2007

There are the singer, the sindhen for example. A wayang performance (shadow puppetry) in Java starts around 9 o’clock in the evening and lasts until 3-4 in the morning. The singers have to sing and sit there nicely in their uncomfortable costumes the whole time. Even a klenengan (gamelan music without dance) can last 3-5 hours. Of course, the sindhen are human beings also, and the discipline sometimes gets loose. They grab a mirror to check the make up (I saw somebody once glued her mirror in her lyrics booklet), they send text messages, eat their supper (rice, chicken, hot sauce, boiled banana), or eat peanuts, etc… so that they don’t get bored. And, of course, they drink the very sweet Javanese jasmine tea. At times a nail file can turn up (on radio recordings that are not so formal).
They are beautiful and wonderful.


Dancer 45x30 cm /oil on canvas 2007

The ibu (lady) dancing is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. There is charm and grace in her fat body moving. She is mesmerizing. Words are not enough to describe.


I could have painted more Javanese pictures, because I had enough ideas… like women selling chicken on the market… But at the end I did not.
You can still see chicken legs however in the lady’s basket on the picture Cookie.


Cookie (on the way home from the market) 60x40 cm / oil, canvas 2007

I was waiting for the bus at the terminal in Békéscsaba. I saw an old woman who was sitting on a bench and opened a crinkly tissue that was covering a fine creamy cake. She got her pocket knife out and started to eat.
It was so lovely.


Back to the chatting paintings: there is this party. When we are standing together, trying to be funny, interesting, or just passing the time with light talk… while we are nibbling and bibing.
I was at a garden party once and secretly collected movements and compositions as people were chatting with one another.  I knew I could use those gestures once.
So I did.
But maybe I just wanted to mix that nice green on the palette and wanted to paint a checked drapery? Just imagine

just imagine

Just imagine 90x70 cm, oil, canvas, 2008


I started to be fascinated with Youtube, where thousands of videos can be seen. I started to search for different music, and I stepped into a new world. I haven-‘t associated a visual experience with music before, I was always concentrating on the sound only. On a symphony-orchestra concert I prefer to listen to the music with closed eyes.
It was very interesting to see the faces of the musicians who play my favorite songs. Especially the jazz musicians, who play with such empathy. (I can recommend the song Autumn Leaves by Rachelle Ferrell.)
I also found a shooting where Pearl Bailey is calling Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald on stage. The curtain flips and two big black matrons appear. Wow, they have got really big! They used to be slim ladies when they were young.
I enjoy listening to jazz a lot. I like to watch these women as life energy flows through them emanating the joy of life filling the space through their voice and being.
This gave the inspiration for the picture Jazz.  I did not completely succeed with giving back what I wanted, but I still feel the painting can be shown. 


Jazz 90x60 cm, oil, canvas, 2007


I painted a picture about my grandma shortly before her death, where she plays the violin.
Seeing how difficult it was for grandpa to experience loosing his partner after living together for more than 50 years, I painted Hello my Dear using the image of grandma and the violin.
I don’t need to explain more.
Why is that silver square there? It wanted to be there. A way through to an other dimension.

hello my dear

Hello my Dear 90x80 cm, oil, canvas, 2007



What is my aim with this exhibition? I want to show the works I made during this last year. I want to share.
I paint because there is an inner need. I am full of ideas, different moods, thoughts and they become  pictures in my eyes. Through painting I can work on feelings and I can get closer to myself. Painting is self knowledge.

I like to share my path with people, it might give something to others too. I like to make people smile, I like to touch souls, open hearts, tell stories.
I like to grasp the beauty of moments, and find beauty, kindness and charm even in the ugly and grotesque. Simply, without icing. (that is not so easy!)
I always long for beauty and harmony. Harmony appears if I can find balance. Above my desk there is a quotation: “don’t strive for great calmness, but for great endurance!” Calmness is when there is no energy that wants to put off, when there is no conflict. Endurance, on the other hand, suggests that even in unsettling situations I can find peace. This can only happen if I am in my center. If I am not kissmárti, not a painter, nor an ego of different kinds who is dragged by different affairs, but I am one with the spirit. With existence and presence. For me this is the idyll.


I am susceptible to conserving myself into calmness and to avoid conflicts. I would like to find the peace in any situation. I can peep in the black bowl. I can get acquainted with my shadow. This makes the world whole.

Silence and Chat.

In our world the two comes together. There is no sound without silence, and there is no silence without sound. Like there is no night without day, cry without laughter. Everything is moving all the time. There is only one constant thing: incessant changing.

Marta Kiss

January 2008